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The Big Security Hole With the Mac App Store

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If you’re an OS X user, the Mac App Store is a blessing and a curse of sorts. It’s a blessing because it lets you find all sorts of apps that you might never have discovered, and sometimes for cheap, too. It’s a curse because it might lead to the marginalization of other means of distribution. For technical and other reasons, not all apps can be sold in the Mac App Store. Those developers might someday find themselves out in the cold if the App Store continues to grow in popularity. Is there one other flaw with the App Store, though – security?

ExtremeTech recently argued that security was a flaw with the Mac App Store. Specifically, because Apple can be so slow to approve app updates, users are sometimes left running versions of apps that are riddled with security flaws. For example, the Mac App Store version of Opera is two versions (and many security fixes) behind the version available by regular download. The Kindle app is three versions behind.

Now, in fairness, OS X isn’t the virus target that Windows is. Still, the Mac Defender virus shows that, after years of false alarms, OS X finally may be gaining enough market share to be a target. With Macs consistently being among the first to get exploited in the PWN 2 Own hacking competition, this could spell trouble.

In the future, this might not be a Mac problem, but a computer problem. It demonstrates a problem that Microsoft would need to address, if it ever jumps into the desktop OS app store business.

Has ExtremeTech overblown this threat? Whether on Windows or OS X, do/would you trust an app store as a place to get your apps, when you have to rely on the app store for updates?

Apple’s Dirty Little Mac App Store Security Secret [ExtremeTech]

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